Ramadan is when i miss my brother the most, we are pretty close but can’t meet up often because we live in different cities.Iftar,the meal when we break fast after abstaining from food and water from dawn to sunset is when i think of him.Sunsets make me sad and nostalgic,to add to that my brother isn’t with me when i’m breaking my fast,which is supposed to be a family affair,i always feel a void.
Iftar,the word itself conjures up an image of a family sitting in front of food prepared by the mother, waiting for the sirens to ring,children enthusiastically trying to help lay the table,giggling away as they do that.Such a beautiful scene.My brother and i don’t have childhood memories like these.In our memories,when were little,Ramadan was nothing special.It was a time when we couldn’t visit our maternal Grandmom’s home because my mother didn’t want us to disturb her Ramadan routine and also not to exhaust her. But my Grandpa used to bring us a milk can full(about a gallon or more) of SheerKorma(dessert made of milk and vermicelli) first thing in the morning on Eid,and this memory is by far,the most beautiful thing related to Ramadan.Everything else related to Islam was distant to us.
My Dad was a Hindu and my Mom a Muslim. We grew up mostly with our Dad’s side of the family,spending only about two weeks with my Mom’s parents and our maternal cousins during the summer holidays.That was the only time we’d get to know a little about Islam,but it didn’t appeal to me much then.Obviously, because i didn’t understand it.The Islamic traditions in India are mostly innovations,influenced much by the Hindu culture,that must have made me feel like there’s not much difference between the two religions.So,i remained detached from Islam and so did my brother.But ofcourse things are different now,with the Internet and the efforts of many people,the Sub Continent too has been waking up to the true religion,there is awareness about what’s original and what’s innovated/added, and that’s a good thing.
Coming back to my brother and me and Iftar,if i’m not wrong,i’m pretty sure i’m not,my brother and i have spent Iftar together only on five occasions since we both started practising Islam,which by the way we did in
different years than each others’,and different places too,in different circumstances.Till date i haven’t had the time to ask him about what led him to Islam,but i intend to do that soon.
As for my love story with Islam,I can only say that it was destined to,because my Islam is so perfect,free of error.I can say that Islam i found where i least expected to,in a land far away from home,from Islam,in a place,amongst a people not so familiar with the religion.I’ve always felt like i was destined to embrace Islam,and it had to be away from home,in the solitude,in the turmoil,amidst one of the most difficult times of my life.I was to choose Islam,learn it the hard way,I had to understand it from an outsider’s perspective,to find the beauty in it,I was not meant to inherit it.I think i can say the same about my brother.
Like how a compass always points north due to the earth’s magnetic field,my heart,mind and soul pointed me in the direction of Islam,like I was always meant to be a Muslim but I had to find it myself.I’m forever grateful to Allah,the Almighty for this love story,Islam’s and mine,the story of how i fell in love with the perfection,the balance and the science of Islam after understanding it completely.It has now become the very essence of my existence,like how it should be.I’m also grateful that my brother too has found the peace,the truth.
I miss him still and will think of him every Ramadan day and we’ll hopefully make memories of Iftar when he’s in town during the month.And now that we both have beautiful boys,we’ll make memories for them to remember when they grow up,hopefully they’ll cherish them when we are long gone and hopefully they’ll love Islam the same,i know they will,InshaAllah.
For now i’m praying for all my brothers and sisters in Islam and for peace and harmony in the world and peace in my heart,Ameen. ……….meanwhile my heart still longs and feels blessed for the longing and the love.
*that’s my Dad and Mom,my brother and I in the picture.
©Seema Tabassum 2015
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